Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About that "giant-robot laboratory" on East Sixth Street

As you may know, New York has a great piece this week on 190 Bowery, a space that I've long been curious about. Wendy Goodman gets right to it in her lead:

The building at 190 Bowery is a mystery: a graffiti-covered Gilded Age relic, with a beat-up wooden door that looks like it hasn’t been opened since La Guardia was mayor. A few years ago, that described a lot of the neighborhood, but with the Bowery Hotel and the New Museum, the Rogan and John Varvatos boutiques, 190 is now an anomaly, not the norm. Why isn’t some developer turning it into luxury condos?

Because Jay Maisel, the photographer who bought it 42 years ago for $102,000, still lives there, with his wife, Linda Adam Maisel, and daughter, Amanda. It isn’t a decrepit ruin; 190 Bowery is a six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot (depending on how you measure) single-family home.


There's another building that I've been curious about: 421 E. Sixth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.



I was told years back that an artist lives there. Indeed.

According to Forgotten New York: "421 was a Con Edison substation built in 1920-21 that converted direct current to alternating. It is at present (2008) the studio of modern artist/sculptor Walter De Maria. His most famous installation is The Lightning Field (1977) is permanently installed in the desert at Quemado, New Mexico, and was commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation, who run the site and provide accommodation for visitors. The work consists of hundreds of stainless steel rods projecting from the ground to a uniform height of around six metres (20 feet). Rows of 20 rods extend for one mile, while rows of 16 extend for a kilometre, making a square grid of standard and metric proportions. The work is designed to attract spectacular lightning strikes."

NY Songlines has a few more details: "This building, which looks like a giant-robot laboratory, was actually built in 1919-21 as a New York Edison transformer substation — turning DC current into AC. Since 1980 it's been owned by artist Walter De Maria."



Wonder if we'll ever get to see the inside of this space...

Related:
Miss Representation on 421 E. Sixth St.

6 comments:

beatricethecat said...

i heard that the sixth street building is owned by Walter de Maria and that it was possibly storage. Dia Center for the Arts has a few of his works up in Soho. they are big and very 70's ish. The Earth Room is cool though.

I got a tour of 190 Bowery once a few years ago and was also shocked to learn it belonged to one person. Its awesome inside. He has a whole floor with just his work up, his own personal gallery, but then again he's that kind of guy. And even though the first floor had lots of computer stuff in it, it still felt like an old bank, a relic which you'd be hard pressed to find now. if someone takes over that space i hope they keep that feel. I'll have to take a look at the article in New York.

EV Grieve said...

Hi Beatrice. Thanks for the note. Definitely check out the New York piece -- real estate agents believe the space at 190 Bowery is worth up to $35 million on the market...(well, maybe two weeks ago!) He's not planning on leaving anytime soon...

Alex in NYC said...

I ruminated on 190 a while back...

http://vassifer.blogs.com/alexinnyc/2007/03/the_mystery_of_.html

EV Grieve said...

Hey Alex...Do you ever cross paths again with Jazequah Codslayer?

Rich said...

I walk past this building many times a week on my way home and have been curious about it for years. I always suspected it was actually a home due to the discrete mailbox and doorbell....but now I know. I have NEVER EVER seen anyone go in or out however and only an occasional spooky light on the top floors.

deebee said...

I lived at 411 East 6th Street from 1973 - 1975on the 6th floor overlooking the synagogue which is one building between us.

The building always was a mystery but between the entrepreneurial Latinos rehabbing old stoves on the street, and peddlers selling dead stock 1930's ladies shoes there was always a stream of activity by the entrance.

Ah the great times....didn't know they would be gone so soon.